The Sun News

Social comparism and media madness

One of my favourite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States who averred that,“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

If there was ever a time to preach the gospel of confidence and self-esteem it is now, especially with the litany of calamities in the past week at home and abroad.

Over the weekend, two students of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) drowned while taking selfies in a canoe.

According to President of the Students Union Government, Mr. Olayinka Olasehinde, four students went to a river close to the university and took selfies in a stationary canoe. Unknown to them, the grim reaper was lurking beside the canoe, which capsized while they were taking pictures. The casualty figure was reduced when two of the students swam to safety while the other two drowned. These 300-Level students, with a few months to final year had their destinies cut short in an attempt to boost social status, throwing their parents, extended family, the university community and the nation into deep mourning.

An equally pathetic case in the tragic pursuit for renown is the account of an aspiring Youtube star, Pedro Ruiz, who persuaded his pregnant girlfriend and mother of his son to engage in a bizarre social media stunt. Mona Liza Perez, a 19-year-old claimed her lover wanted to film a video of her shooting a book he was holding, with the befuddled conviction that the bullet would be stopped by the book. Whether in Akure, Nigeria or Minnesota, in the United States, nature does not tolerate such inanity. Rather than stop the bullet, Ruiz’s ambition and destiny were stopped by the bullet, while his co-traveler in the planned horse feather ride to stardom has been charged with manslaughter. The motive for the crazy stunt was “because we want more viewers, we want to get famous.”

Welcome to the 21st century definition of social status characterized by social media followership. Literally, the crazier the idea or stunt, the more exciting and feverish is the interest shown by netizens. The Bible admonition that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it,” finds fulfillment in this present day. The unbridled quest for overnight passport to celebrity status, accounts for the needless loss of promising lives.

Early in the year a popular actress, decided to come clean after successfully spinning catalogue of lies on social media. To boost her celebrity status, Tonto Dikeh posted pictures of utopian marital relationship; images of unimaginable marital bliss flooded her social media posts. Predictably she led her gullible followers on, hitting record likes. The day of reckoning came when she had to keep date with reality, and made this confession: “I treated many STDs, my marriage based on lies, deceit and scam.” The sad truth is that lies, deceit and scam form the core of social media posts. Like Alice in Wonderland, many transcribe hallucination into reality in keeping with the Joneses.

The latest fad is to hit record “likes” while the ultimate vainglory is to trend on social media. While people like Dr. Strive Masiyiwa, one of Africa’s most celebrated intellectuals enjoy large followership based on cerebral output, others distort the media space via a barrage of nonsensities.

All these are pointers to deficiencies in self-esteem, where people require others to validate their essence. Confidence is a vital element of etiquette, a by-product of positive mental attitude and the major antidote to the downside of social media, which research has shown to escalate low self-esteem, narcissism and anxiety.

Be wise therefore, for not all that glitters on social media is real. Confident people are unperturbed by the achievements of people around them.

Rather than engage in dangerous or ridiculous stunts, make belief that will haunt you for a lifetime, cultivate positive self-talk, being a confident in your own skin. So before you click that ‘Like’ button, or post that unnecessary selfie, ask yourself: “Is my self-esteem in place?”

You own your life, regardless of the number of or absence of ‘Likes’ you get. In reality you don’t need any one to validate your self-worth. The wise counsel of an unknown author advises that ‘When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

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